When The Going Gets Tough

When God leads you through something that's rough, beloved, look up, and say, "Lord, I'm doing this for Jesus. I'm sharing it with Him and I want you to get glory out of it, that God might be glorified."

Scripture: John 20, Philippians 1:29


Alright. Thank you very much. A hello again, dear radio friend. How in the world are you? Well, thank God we can be in the world, but not of it. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to be tarred with the world’s brush? Don’t have to be smeared with the dirty world. God can keep you. Peter says, “You, who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last day.” One of the nice things about being kept by your Lord, is you’re always ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus. That’s a nice thought, isn’t it? You don’t have to hurry frantically to clean up your heart house, when God is keeping you.

Well, we’re in John chapter 20. The Lord Jesus has just revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene, as she stood outside the grave there crying. And He said unto her, “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father, but go to my brethren and say unto them, ‘I ascend unto My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’ ” Some people feel that after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus came back to the presence of God the Father, bearing His perfect sacrifice for sins, presenting His shed blood as evidence that all of sin had been atoned for, the Holy Law of God had been vindicated, and salvation could then be by grace. He said, “Don’t touch me. I haven’t yet ascended. But I ascend unto My Father and your Father.”

In any case, there came that day, 40 days afterwards, when as they watched, He was caught up from them, and a cloud received Him out of their sight, and the angels then said, “This same Jesus, Which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner, as ye have seen Him go away into Heaven.”

So Mary Magdalene came, and told the disciples that she’d seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her. Another of the writers said that, “They didn’t really believe her.” It was just too much to believe. Anybody that says to you that the disciples were self-deluded, and that all of this was a fantasy, you have to read the record realistically, and hear the dreadful evidence, that these people didn’t believe that it had happened, that it could possibly happen. The two who were on their way to Emmaus, the night of resurrection day, the Lord Jesus drew near them and they said, “Are you a stranger in Jerusalem? You don’t know what’s happened?” They told Him about the crucifixion, and death of their Lord, and they said, “We had hoped that it had been He, who would have delivered Israel.” “We thought,” in other words, “That He was our Messiah.”

Well, He said, “Oh, foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the Scriptures have spoken, ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His Glory?” And beginning at Moses, and in all the prophets, He expounded unto them the things in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. They brought Him home to supper, and as He gave thanks for the food, they knew that it was He.

See, these people were not self-deceived. They weren’t the victims of their own fantasizing. They were hard-minded people who simply refused to believe that such a thing could happen, until it was proved to them. So the next day, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, this would be our Sunday, when the doors were shut, where the disciples were ascended for fear, they locked everything up, and they talked in whispers. When the doors were shut, came Jesus and stood in the midst. That must have been a tremendous experience. The door was locked. Nobody had entered. The windows were shut and barred, and all of a sudden, there’s the Lord Jesus Christ standing in the midst, “And said unto them, ‘Peace be unto you.’ And when He had so said, He showed them His hands, and His side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.”

Vance Havner preached an effective sermon many years ago, as I recall on that text, “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” The point being, that real joy comes from a personal experience of the presence of Christ in your life.

How familiar are you with the presence of your Savior? Do you spend time in His Presence? Or do you just rush in with a laundry list, and say, “Lord, do this and that, Amen,” and go away again. Real joy is a byproduct of the presence of Jesus in your life. Remember that, will you, and spend a little extra time with your Lord? “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.”

Well, the net result of blessing, the blessing of Christ’s Presence, is to be put to work. “Peace be unto you, as My Father hath sent Me. Even so, send I you.” “As My Father hath sent Me.” How did He send Him? Down the stairways of the stars. To Mary’s home to the Bethlehem manger. To the years in the carpenter shop. To the byways and the roads, the dusty roads of Galilee. To the judgment hall, and the ascent to Calvary’s hill, and the Cross, and the broken heart. And the victory of the Resurrection.

He said, “My Father sent Me. I’m sending you the same way.” What does it mean for you and for me, in the end of the 20th century, and the beginning of a new one? What does it mean for Jesus to send us? Well, the obvious thing, is found in what we call the Great Commission, isn’t it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Or as Matthew puts it, “Go ye into all the world, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever, I have commanded you, and lo, I’m with you always, even until the end of the world.” That’s the obvious. He sends us to spread the Good News of the Gospel, sent with the Good News. “As my Father hath sent Me, even so, send I you.”

“Glad tidings of great joy,” said the angels at His birth.” He was sent with glad tidings of great joy. You and I are sent with glad tidings of great joy. The Gospel message brings joy and deliverance, doesn’t it? Well, what else is it?

Paul says in Philippians 1:29, I think it is, “Unto you, it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” And it may well be, that Christ will trust you and me, beloved, somewhere along the line, with something that isn’t pleasant, and isn’t happy, something we don’t like, but it is for His sake.

I have to admit with some shame-facedness, that the times when I have complained the most to God about the way things were going, or not going, as the case may be, the times when I’ve complained the worst to God, have been immediately before something nice that God was going to do for me. He was getting me ready for something.

Bob Pierce used to say, “The only way God can handle me is to break my heart all over again.” He said, “Whenever He’s going to do something great in my life, He puts me through the wringer.” That’s how our brother Bob Pierce used to say. Well, I don’t know how it is with you, but I only know that Jesus said, is, “My Father sent Me,” and that involved getting tired, that involved being misunderstood, that involved being betrayed, that involved being denied, that involved the quintessential suffering of Calvary. The delicate agony, not only of physical pain, but of a broken heart for the sin of all the world.

All of that? Yes, I know you and I can never begin to duplicate the suffering of Christ on Calvary, and the great heartbreak that He endured. “As He became sin for us, He who knew no sin.” I know we can’t duplicate that. Paul the Apostle said, “We’re given the privilege of sharing.” And so when God leads you through something that’s rough, beloved, you look up, and say, “Lord, I’m doing this for Jesus. I’m sharing it with Him and I want you to get glory out of it, that God might be glorified.” Our Lord Jesus said concerning the man who had been born blind, they asked, “Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” And our Lord Jesus said, “Neither this man, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

The same idea is found in John 11, where our Lord Jesus delayed coming to Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus, who was ill, long enough for Lazarus to die, and to be buried. He said, “This sickness is not unto death only, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified there.” By this sickness? That the Son of God might be glorified? That’s hard for me to accept, because I like to get well, don’t you? I can get a pain and I say, “Oh, God, touch that and heal it. Amen.” [laughter] Like the little boy who prayed for patience said, “I want patience and I want it right now! Amen.”

Well, it’s not easy for me, and I suppose it isn’t for you, or anybody, to consider that trials, or illness, or pains, or heartache, is any part of the plan of God. And yet, Jesus said, concerning Lazarus, “This sickness is for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified.” And it involved Lazarus getting sicker, and sicker, and sicker, and then dying, and being buried. That’s what it involved. Now, let me come back to Philippians 1:29, “Unto you, it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” And I don’t know what God is putting you through. And I don’t know what you, and I are going to have to face in the future. There are places in this old world, where you get shot dead for being a Christian, you know that. Or worse.

It’s not the worst thing to be shot dead, there are much slower ways of dying. Places in this world, where it may cost you your life to be true to Jesus. That hasn’t happened here in the USA. Thankfully, this is still the land of the free, and the home of the brave, and we can still pray, and preach, and broadcast the Gospel. Hallelujah, thank God for that. Stand up for freedom wherever you can. Cast your vote for freedom. But the fact is, God trusts you with things that aren’t pleasant. He trusts you with tests, that try the very mettle of your soul. He trusts you with heartache and tears, so that He can prove that He’s God in your life. I don’t know why He does it that way, but He does.

Do you want to take that for yourself and apply it to your own life? Look up today and have in mind the things, about which you may have been a little bit rebellious. Say, “Lord, I’m not gonna rebel against it any longer. I’m gonna accept it as part of your plan for me. Glorify yourself in my life.”

Oh, I’ll tell you, it’ll make all the difference in the world. When you start praying about your situation, Proverbs says, “Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16, I think it is, Three, “Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” You tell God about your job, and about the situation, and He’ll make a difference in the way you look about it, and think about it. Try that on for size, will you, beloved?

No, not everything is pleasant, but the presence of the Lord Jesus in your life gives you real joy. And then, He says, “As My Father hath sent me, even so, send I you.” Yes, the glad news of the message of life in Christ. Yes, the thrill and joy of a Spirit-filled experience. But, yes, also the times when you go through the wringer, as we say, and it isn’t very pleasant, but you do it to glorify Jesus.

Father God today, oh, may we know the presence of Jesus and may we fulfill Thy Divine purpose, as we live for Him. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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